NYAPRS Note: It appears that NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders have only one more day to get a shared commitment ( memorandum of understanding or MOU)to invest $1 billion in previously promised affordable housing, most notably supportive housing, one of NYAPRS top budget priorities this past session.
As a result, Community Access' and NYAPRS Immediate Past President Carla Rabinowitz ust released an alert saying:
"We are at a critical stage with the MOU. Itmay bediscussed in Albany tomorrow.The Governor and leaders of State Senate and Assembly can get the MOU signed tomorrow.
Help us to send 20,000 messages to Albany – one for every supportive housing unit promised.
Just click the link below and tell them to SIGN THE MOU!
We are asking allourfriendsto post this link onyour agency Facebook page and linked in page today!
Last year, as part of the campaign, we fought for a historic commitment from the State to fund 20,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years.As a result, Governor Cuomo appropriated $2 billion to fund, among other things, the first 6,000 units of supportive housing over the next 5 years.
However, the State has only released funding for the first 1,200 units.In order to release the remaining funding, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is required to be signed by the Governor, Senate and Assembly.
We ask for you to again click the link above to show Governor Cuomo and the Legislature that we remain vigilant as ever in our quest to release the remaining funds.
Our battle is not over. Every email counts.Please forward this message to anyone you think would be supportive and ask them to participate as well.
Note: See below for articles in yesterday's newspapers.
Homeless Advocates Push for MOU, Session or Not
By Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union Capitol Confidentiality December 21, 2016
As the governor and lawmakers continue to wrangle, tussle and generally agonize over whether there will be a special session by the end of the year to develop a legislative pay raise and pass several measures the governor wants, a group of homeless advocates on Wednesday urged signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU that would free up money for supportive housing. The MOU was part of the budget talks back in April but such an agreement hasn’t yet been signed and that’s needed to free up money to begin work on new projects.
New York on any given night has about 88,000 homeless people across the state, said demonstrators from the Council of Churches and from shelters in Troy and Saratoga Springs.
Here are some more details:
With today marking National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, a coalition of faith leaders, advocates and housing providers gathered in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in midtown Manhattan and at the State Capitol in Albany to demand the Governor keep his promise to fund thousands of units of supportive housing for the homeless in communities across New York State.
Each night, more than 88,000 New Yorkers struggle with homelessness – roughly the population of Schenectady and Glens Falls combined. During his State of the State speech in January, Governor Cuomo pledged to fund 20,000 new units of supportive housing. The State Budget passed in April included capital funds for the first 6,000 of those units, but required a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the Senate and the Assembly before the funds can be spent.
During a press conference in the State Capitol building in Albany, Reverend Peter Cook from the New York State Council of Churches, Kevin O’Connor from Joseph’s House and Shelter, and Michael Finocchi, Executive Director of Shelters of Saratoga, called on the Governor to get the MOU signed. Earlier in the morning, dozens of advocates and supportive housing providers attended a National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day rally in front of the Governor’s office in Manhattan to demand action. This is the 20th rally since advocates and supporters began these weekly rallies in July.
Today’s events were part of a new effort launched last month by the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing to convince the Governor to honor his commitment. The Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing kicked off a letter-writing campaign that aims to produce 20,000 emails from real New Yorkers – one for every unit of supportive housing promised – by Governor Cuomo’s next State of the State in January.
“Widespread homelessness in the land of plenty is beyond shameful,” said Reverend Peter Cook, Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches. “With winter upon us, once again non-profit and government agencies will struggle to provide some type of housing for New York State’s homeless men, women and children. Some will escape the winter unharmed. Others may freeze. But it will be one more winter spent scrambling to address a problem of unprecedented proportions.”
“Today is a sad day for those of us who work with homeless people,” said Kevin O’Connor, Executive Director of Joseph’s House and Shelter. “On National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day we remember all of the homeless people who passed away during the previous year. Let’s pray that – at this time next year – we aren’t marking another National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day with another long list. Now is the time to sign the MOU so we can get thousands of units of supportive housing built, and make a difference in the lives of thousands of our people in communities across the state.”
“I see first-hand, every day, people who would benefit from the investment that Governor Cuomo promised,” said Michael Finocchi, Executive Director of Shelters of Saratoga. “Supportive housing is the best, most humane, and most cost effective way to provide chronically homeless people the support they need. This isn’t theory. We see it first-hand. Lives can be rebuilt. Families restored. Spirits renewed. Governor Cuomo has shown leadership on the issue in the past. Now we are calling on him to do it again. Finish the job. Get this MOU signed and allow these 6,000 units of supportive housing to be built.”
Studies throughout the country have repeatedly demonstrated that supportive housing pays for itself by reducing medical and psychiatric hospitalizations, detox and rehab programs, shelters and incarceration. In New York, placing homeless individuals in supportive housing has been found to save our government $10,100 per year, per tenant.
During his budget speech last January, Governor Cuomo promised to build 20,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years. When the State budget was passed in April, it pledged to fund the first 6,000 of those units over the next five years, but made the funding contingent on the completion of a MOU between the Governor and the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly.
Near the end of the 2016 legislative session, the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing organized a letter-writing campaign that generated more than 10,000 emails calling for this MOU to be signed.
Months later, the MOU still has not been signed. Instead, the Governor released $150 million of the $2 billion, which will support a fraction of the units promised both in January (when the Governor promised to build 20,000) and in April (when the budget anticipated the first 6,000 units over five years).
Supportive housing developers, investors and service providers need long-term financing commitments for the future development of safe, permanent housing for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Without long-term state-committed capital, service financing and operating subsidies, it is impossible to attract private investment for the acquisition of land and predevelopment financing, which can together cost millions of dollars. This will have negative consequences for years to come.
In the past, New York/New York Agreements between New York City and New York State attracted investors because they diminished risk to developers by providing long-term commitments to fund a set number of units. The five-year MOU promised by the Governor is a critical first step to creating the robust pipeline of supportive housing needed to address New York State’s homelessness crisis.
In the months since the legislative session ended, the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing has kept up the pressure by organizing weekly protests in front of the Governor’s office in Manhattan urging him to get the MOU signed so the long-term funding commitment required to build supportive housing can be locked into place.
Since last year, 159 state legislators — close to 75 percent of the Legislature — have signed letters from their respective chambers demanding the state fund 20,000 units of supportive housing.
NYAPRS Note: It appears that Governor Cuomo and NYS Legislative leaders have one more day to nail down a share commitment to commit $1 billion for previously promised funding for affordable housing, most notably supportive housing.
Albany Agreement Could Leave $1 Billion in Affordable-Housing Money on the Table
Gov. Cuomo And Legislators May Convene a Special Session to Release Just Half of the Housing Money Allocated In April's Budget
By Joe Anuta Crain's New York Business | December 21, 2016
Advocates criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday for pushing a last-minute housing agreement in Albany that would release only half of the $2 billion in housing money that was promised in April's budget.
The governor and the heads of the state Assembly and Senate are in talks to meet before the end of the year and tie up a number of unfinished legislative items. Among the issues being considered is an agreement to release $1 billion in housing money for supportive housing, which is typically apartments for homeless New Yorkers who need additional services beyond a roof over their heads.
In April's budget, however, the governor allocated $2 billion in housing money. At the time, there was no agreement on exactly what the cash should be used for, so lawmakers said that they would hash out the details later in an agreement called a memorandum of understanding, or MOU. The governor subsequently released $150 million for supportive housing, and then in September signed an MOU that was never ratified by the Senate and Assembly. As a result, a broad agreement has yet to be reached.
"Clearly, the idea of an MOU did not work," said Jolie Milstein, head of a trade group of mostly for-profit affordable-housing builders called the New York State Association for Affordable Housing.
Milstein said that her members were promised that the $2 billion would be dished out for a variety of programs that would fund, for example, new apartments for seniors and middle-income New Yorkers, along with the preservation of existing affordable units and renovations of public-housing projects around the state. Instead, only supportive housing would get $1 billion over five years under the agreement being discussed. The rest of the programs would have to wait for another MOU.
"I just don't understand the rationale of giving a five-year commitment to one piece and ignoring the desperate need across the rest of the program," Milstein said. "That's not what we were promised."
The governor’s office said that the money released earlier has already funded thousands of apartments for homeless New Yorkers.
“The governor's unprecedented plan to combat homelessness and build 6,000 units of supportive housing over 5 years is on track,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “Its first year is fully funded with $150 million to build the first 1,200 units already out the door.”
It was unclear whether other housing-related items, such as the revival of a controversial tax exemption program called 421-a, would be considered at the special session.